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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

![Spotlight] Kim Kiyoung’s The Housemaid

Before South Korea made its mark on the international TV screens with drama filled with makjang (outrageous storylines involving adultery, revenge, murder, deception and the like) elements, there was a film entitled The Housemaid. This horror film that was shown in crisp black and white format in its first debut in Korean theaters in 1960s pioneered much of what is Korean cinema today. Much of today’s celebrated filmakers in that country like Park Chan-wook, Kim Ji-woon and Bong Joon-ho are only a handful of the younger generation who were greatly inspired by this cult classic.
The Housemaid starts off with a seemingly average family, the husband is piano teacher who teaches the local choir club that is made out of women working the factory nearby. After dismissing a student who has written him a love letter, the piano teacher asks another student to recommend someone to be hired as a housemaid, as his wife has fallen ill. The housemaid moves in with a family of four and things take a dark turn. Seducing the husband is only the beginning of the trouble, as the maid’s bizarre behavior escalates and the wife tries to assert her place.
The resulting piece is eerily Hitchcockian, and when a character falls into his death due to a deadly staircase — the viewers are treated to psychological terror as we see the maid become increasingly insane and nefarious. The set, handpicked by the director was built in such a fashion that betrayed a sense of claustrophobia to the audience — its  setting so familiar that is its foreboding. Amazing acting by Kim Jin Kyu, Lee Eun Shim, and a young Ahn Sungki (now regarded one of Korea’s veteran actors). The remastered DVD box set of this film has been recently restored and available for purchase… and the film itself can also be seen online for free at The Auteurs.
The film has also recently been greenlighted for a remake, topbilled by Jeon Do Yeon (nicknamed the “Cannes Queen” because of recent win at the prestigous film festival), Lee Jung Jae, and Seo Woo. This new movie which began filming this January added a modern twist to the plotline… the couple will now be portrayed as a younger married couple while Jeon will play the titular role as an older housemaid.
thehousemaid_remake2First Released Still from The Housemaid (2010 Remake)
Credits: Dramabeans + Twitch + Korean Film Archive

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